“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you ...” (Isaiah 41:10)
On 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, suicide bombers attacked three worship services and three hotels where Christians who had completed all-night vigils were having Easter breakfast together. Over 200 people were killed and at least 500 were injured.
The threat of violence from extremists, hostile local communities and the authorities is a daily reality for persecuted Christians in many contexts, especially where national identity is closely identified with a majority religion other than Christianity.
West African Islamist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon, and Al Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, have killed hundreds of Christians and displaced thousands in 2019 alone. Islamist groups continue to be active in Syria and Iraq. Islamist attacks also occur in Pakistan, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Indonesia, among others. Christian gatherings in Sri Lanka can be violently disrupted by militant Buddhists and Hindu extremists in India frequently carry out acts of anti-Christian violence. Christians suffer repression and hostility in many Central Asian countries. North Korea remains the most dangerous country to be a Christian. China’s communist government is increasingly oppressive towards Christians. Eritrea and Iran have laws that suppress freedom of religion for Christians, resulting in police raids, arrests, torture, and sometimes martyrdom.
Barnabas’ Victims of Violence Fund helps to rebuild shattered lives by providing food, medical care, legal assistance and places of refuge. When Christians need to make a fresh start, help with small-business start-up costs or vocational training makes this possible. The Fund also cares for the families of prisoners and helps Christians who have suffered state-sponsored injustice.
Lift up Christians living under the constant threat of violence or injustice simply because of their faith. Ask God to shield all who take refuge in Him (2 Samuel 22:31). Intercede for Christians recovering from violent attacks, that the Lord will bless them in their new beginnings and keep them safe. Praise God for those who endure injustice and imprisonment, and ask Him to strengthen them and their families.